As provocative as their name might be, Perfect Pussy aren't a band whose success has been based on shock appeal alone. With their driving, grinding sonic assault of a sound, they have a skill set at once mired in a whole history of punk rock and yet distinctively their own. With Say Yes to Love Perfect Pussy pull out all the stops, becoming the auditory equivalent of a mysterious stranger who kicks down your front door, drinks some of your beer and then fucks off before you even know what's happened.
Stand Out Track: III
9. Eagulls - Eagulls.
Frenetic, beautifully layered and utterly insistent, Eagulls is an album built around stunningly catchy guitar hooks that lay dormant behind nests of feedback and noise. At times oddly beautiful, at other times gleefully ugly, this is an album to be relished.
Stand Out Track: Nerve Endings.
8. Swans - To Be Kind.
An album this abrasive is guaranteed to make the listening of it a lonely one - this is not the music you would put on at a Bar Mitzvah, for example. To Be Kind, with all its swirling, hypnotic barbarity, is a record that you have to listen to all by yourself, with nobody there to protect you. And God be damned if that isn't exactly how Michael Gira et al want it - that way they can do terrible things to you when you're at your most vulnerable...
Stand Out Track: Oxygen.
The sound of Mess is akin to the noise a vintage synthesizer might make as it slit its wrists. That analogy sound melodramatic? Good, cause that's exactly what this album is - over the top in a way that feels deliciously excessive, rather than overwhelming. The whole record is held in place by the stunning single Mess on A Mission, giving the swirling hurricane of noise a centre. Stellar stuff.
Stand Out Track: Mess.
6. Ty Segall - Singles 2.
Delightfully DIY, Singles 2 is a guided tour through Ty Segall's impressive back catalogue, a collection of B-sides and singles released over the years. It's a stunning insight into the mind of a relentlessly imaginative musician, whose skill and impulse makes it impossible for him to sit still.
Stand Out Track: Femme Fatale
5. Shellac - Dude Incredible
Oh, Shellac: always different, yet always the same. Each of Dude Incredible's hypnotically powerful tracks are like mazes of hate, cruelty and anger, managing to be oddly welcoming given the hysterical subject matter. Albini's talent these days seems almost effortless - this is a guy who could craft an album around a reading of the phonebook, if he wanted to.
Stand Out Track: Dude Incredible.
4. FKA Twigs - LP1
Don't let the insane amounts of hype turn you off - FKA Twigs' LP1 is an exotic and intoxicating work, as slick as the blood spilt at a crime scene; as hideously perverse as a model in a car accident. Admittedly, it took me a few listens to warm to the album - for a while all I heard was LP1's polished sheen - but before I knew it I was ensnared by the sheer level of talent on display. The future holds great things for 'the girl that's from the video.'
Stand Out Track: Video Girl.
3. Ty Segall - Manipulator
Hallucinatory, sustained madness. Every note in this mess of notes hits home - the total effect is the sheer force of Segall's genius. God bless the guy.
Stand Out Track: It's Over.
2. Ariel Pink - Pom Pom.
Say what you will about Ariel himself (and Good Lord if that isn't exactly what people have done all fucking year) Pom Pom proves that even if the guy might have a tendency to say some stupid shit sometimes, he still has the goods. This is damanged, damaging, troubled and troubling noise rock shot through a pop filter, and every song on the album works, from the hysterical lunacy of Plastic Raincoats in the Pig Parade to the Manson-esque vibes of Dazed Inn Daydreams.
Stand Out Track: Picture Me Gone.
1. Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams.
For some hideously snobby critics, it might still be pretty uncool to like Ryan Adams. After all, the guy got nominated for a Grammy - how corporate rock is that? But for the rest of us, this remains an album of incredible hooks, tremendous lyrical work, and a prevailing sense of Adams' sheer generosity as a musician. It's a magnificent work - not only the album of the year, but one of the best records released in quite some time. What snobs call Ryan Adams selling out is really only the sound of a man wholeheartedly embracing his audience, crafting energised and energising rock that reminds us of the purpose of this kind of music in the first place. God fucking bless this record, and the man behind it.
Stand Out Track: Gimme Something Good.